• United Way Portage County News

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    United Way of Portage County
    UNITED for Our Community
    May 2022 - 2nd Quarter Newsletter
    $10,000 Matching Gift Challenge
    A generous donor has offered to make a matching donation up to $10,000 to help United Way reach the Campaign Goal. Donations must be received by May 31st to be matched. Your donation will help us aid more individuals and families in Portage County.
    Be a part of the challenge, donate TODAY!
    News from the CEO, Bill Childers:
    billc@uwportage.org - 330.297.1424 x5
    May 4th at KSU
    The tragic events of May 4, 1970, had a profound impact on Kent State University, the nation and the world. In the ensuing years, Kent State's learning community has honored the memories of Allison Krause, Jeffrey Miller, Sandra Scheuer and William Schroeder with an enduring dedication to scholarship that seeks to prevent violence and promote democratic values from public service to civil discourse.
    Each year on May 4, Kent State University observes several important and meaningful events to remember and honor the students killed and wounded on May 4, 1970. One important aspect of the May 4 anniversary activities is the annual candlelight walk and vigil.
    Learn more about the May 4th Annual Commemoration here.
    May is Mental Health Awareness Month!
    Each year millions of Americans face the reality of living with a mental illness. The theme for this month is "TOGETHER for Mental Health." Mental health is an incredibly important part of our overall health. With a growing number of Americans experiencing mental health symptoms, we need to join together to advocate for improving our community's mental health care system.
    Together, with our community funded partners, volunteers, donors and community members, we can realize our shared vision of a nation where anyone affected by mental illness can get the appropriate support and quality of care to live healthy, fulfilling lives.
    Here are some local agencies that help Portage County residents:
    • United Way 211 Info Line - dial 211 from any phone
    • Mental Health & Recovery Board - 330-673-1756
    • Coleman Health Services - 330-673-1347
    • Family & Community Services - 330-297-7027
    • Townhall II - 330-678-3006
    • Children's Advantage - 330-296-5552
    • Safer Futures - 330-673-2500
    Meals for the UH Portage Staff
    United Way of Portage County recently distributed meals to 875 employees at UH Portage Medical Center in Ravenna.
    The meal distribution targeted members of the hospital staff who have worked tirelessly through the COVID pandemic. Meals were provided to frontline hospital personnel in Ravenna, including doctors and nurses, as well as clinical staff and front desk personnel, custodians, security workers, volunteers and other employees who are responding to the increase in healthcare needs during the COVID-19 pandemic.
    The meals were provided from Guido’s Pizza and Catering of Ravenna. The opportunity was made possible through sponsorships from 717 Credit Union, Hometown Bank, Janet and David Dix and others. United Way volunteers and board members served the meals of rigatoni and meatballs, green beans, salad, bread and dessert to hospital staff at all three shifts — from 11 a.m.t o 1 p.m., from 5 to 6 p.m. and from 11 p.m. to midnight.
    You can direct your contribution to one of the action areas- Education, Income and Health - or choose all three. As always, we will also process a restricted contribution to qualified 501(c)3 organizations.
    Ways to Give
    You can make change happen. United Way needs people who are passionate about better education, income and health to stand up and make a difference.
    Advocacy Information
    United Way works with volunteers and local nonprofits to develop the best opportunities for youth, busy working adults and seniors.
    Volunteer Opportunities
    UWPC Events
    6/11/22 - Bluffett Concert Fundraiser - Jimmy Buffett Tribute Band @ Kent Stage
    6/24/22 - Day of Caring
    Partner Events
    05/14/2022 - Girls on the Run - 5k at Canal Park in Akron at 8am
    05/18/2022 - Habitat for Humanity - Recycle Extravaganza @ The Habitat ReStore from 5pm-8pm
    5/20/2022 - RSVP Road/Street Smarts for Seniors presentation @ Streetsboro City Park from 11am-1pm
    06/16/2022 - Kidney Foundation of Ohio - Empowering Kidney Patients webinar from 8:30am-9:30am
    All over the world, moms are dedicated to building a better future for their children. And United Way has their backs.
    The community spirit that drives United Way’s mission is inspired by the boundless love and hard work of mothers everywhere. We can never take your place, but you taught us well. So this Mother’s Day, we want to not only show our appreciation for the hard work and personal sacrifice of mothers (and grandmothers) around the world, but also reflect on how we can come together to support them.
    After all, moms face challenges that no single person—or organization, for that matter—can solve alone. Together, however, we can lift up individuals and entire communities. That is the real thanks our moms deserve, and that is our core mission at United Way.
    Resource Development
    Julia Colecchi - juliac@uwportage.org - 330.297.1424 x3
    Upcoming United Way Special Events
    Bluffett at The Kent Stage- Saturday, June 11
    United Way of Portage County celebrated its 50th Anniversary in Portage County in December 2020 and this concert is our official commemoration! There is so much power in live music and this concert will be a celebration on everything our community has been through and overcome throughout the Covid-19 pandemic. Join us for a fun, energetic and interactive concert while giving back to your community! UWPC unites people with resources to improve the quality of life of families and individuals in Portage County.
    BLUFFETT featuring The Son Of A Sailor Band is a 100%-live-on-stage Tribute to the legendary Jimmy Buffett & The Coral Reefer Band! This show will have the conga-lines moving with an amazing EIGHT PERFORMERS ON STAGE! Complete with beach-type props and costuming, you will believe this IS the real deal!! The amazing look and vocals of Larry Pearson will have you convinced you have been transported to “Margaritaville”!
    HEAR ALL YOUR FAVORITE HITS LIKE:”Volcano” “Son Of A Sailor” “Margaritavile” “Cheeseburger In Paradise” “Come Monday” “Pencil Thin Moustache” – “Sea Cruise” “Havana Dreaming” ”Boat Drinks” ”He Went To Paris” “Captain And The Kid” “Changes In Latitude, Changes In Attitude” ”A Pirate Looks At 40″ “Fins” and Many more!
    Buy Tickets
    Past United Way Special Events
    NCAA Watch Party @ Ray's Place Kent
    More than 100 people joined us on Friday March 18th as we hosted an NCAA Tournament Watch Party to cheer on our favorite teams and raise some funds for United Way.
    People stopped by Ray's Place, upstairs, to have lunch with us, bid on raffle baskets and participate in $5 and $10 Squares. The event is open to the public and Ray's Place graciously be donated a portion of the food & drink sales during the event. We were able to raise $5,785 during the event!
    1st Annual Reverse Raffle
    Our 1st Annual Reverse Raffle was held on Wednesday, April 27th and a great success! The event was held at The New Center at NEOMED. Attendees enjoyed dinner and drinks, many raffle baskets, 50/50 raffle, side boards, a Coach Purse Raffle, Lucky #7 raffle, and a $2,000 grand prize. We hope everyone enjoyed the evening and thank you for supporting your local United Way! And Congratulations to our three lucky winners!
    Thank you to the United Way Staff, Board Members and Campaign Committee Members who helped set up, sell raffle tickets, and attend the event. With a staff of only 5, we could not have ran with event without our board, committees and volunteers.
    A beautiful set up at The NEW Center
    United Way Staff and Board Members
    For more information about United Way events or sponsorships, please contact Julia Colecchi at
    juliac@uwportage.org or call 330.297.1424
    2021-2022 Campaign
    The United Way of Portage County 2021-2022 Workplace Campaign and individual giving efforts are in full swing! Thank you to all of the wonderful companies and individual donors who support our fundraising work as you are truly the difference makers in our community.
    UWPC has reached 94% of our $700,000 campaign goal!
    Thank you to those who have donated through your workplace campaign, direct mail, UWPC events and more! Please help us reach our goal if you are able.
    Ways to Give to United Way
    Visit our website
    Text UNITEDPC to 44-321
    Scan this QR code
    Community Impact
    Maureen Gebhardt - maureeng@uwportage.org - 330.297.1424 x4
    United Way Day of Caring
    United Way's Annual Day of Caring will be held on Friday, June 24, 2022. Day of Caring is a hands on opportunity that connects volunteers and businesses with local nonprofits, where they complete service projects throughout our community. Join us as we come together to make a large impact in Portage County!
    If you are a nonprofit serving Portage County and would like to submit a project, please contact Maureen Gebhardt.
    All volunteers interested in participating can visit United Way volunteer page here. Click on the 2022 Spotlight banner to view and sign up as an individual or register you team. Be sure to register by May 30th to be guaranteed a Day of Caring t-shirt!
    To sponsor the Day of Caring, please click here and return the form to Maureen.
    Reading Role Models
    United Way's Reading Role Models recently visited West Park Elementary. Our Reading Role Model volunteers were happy to return to West Park and read to the kindergarteners for the first time since the start of the pandemic.
    Throughout the school year, our Reading Role Models program has been visiting Suffield, Brimfield, Rootstown, Longcoy and Windham Elementary schools. If you are interested in becoming a Reading Role Model, check out our volunteer site.
    (Pictured: Reading Role Model, Kristy Huhn from Portage Community Bank)
    Providing Funding through the Emergency Food and Shelter Program & The American Rescue Plan Act
    The United Way of Portage County Emergency Food and Shelter Program has received a grant of $58,480 from the EFSP National Board Program, a federal program administered by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency. Funds will be made available for housing, utility, and food assistance programs. In addition to the annual EFSP grant, the UWPC Emergency Food and Shelter Program has received a grant award of $180,754 from American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA-R). The total of the two grants is $239,234.
    The Portage County Emergency Food and Shelter Board is composed of local representatives of the national organizations listed above, as well as Portage County government, local housing authority, emergency management agency, and non-profit organizations serving low-income households. The local board is accountable to the national board for the use and awarding of the funds.
    The local EFSP Board awarded:
    • Community Action Council - $38,848 for utilities
    • Catholic Charities - $9,000 for utilities
    • Family & Community Services (HESS) - $95,693 for housing
    • Change Hunger - $95,693 for food
    Our Community Funded Partner Programs
    Maureen Gebhardt - maureeng@uwportage.org - 330.297.1424 x4
    Hope Town Recovery Housing
    Hope Town promotes long-term recovery, self-initiative, and increased independence by providing residents with access to the resources they need to make lifestyle changes. Hope Town Recovery Housing aims to remove common barriers to successful recovery by providing affordable housing in conjunction with other services to help residents and the recovery community at large sustain quality of life improvements.
    In May, Hope Town is opening a 15-bed female recovery house in Windham. They also purchased two vehicles and started a transportation service! The 20-bed male house has served 40 men since June 2021. Many of the residents are getting jobs and successfully graduating treatment. Read more at their website.
    Habitat for Humanity
    Habitat for Humanity of Portage County continues to build houses for those in need throughout the community. The ReStore in Kent remains open during normal hours.
    There are several volunteer opportunities at both the constructions sites in Ravenna and at the ReStore in Kent. Individuals and groups are both welcome to volunteer. For volunteer opportunities, please contact Kaleena, at volunteer@habitatofportage.org.
    Girls on The Run
    GOTR is a confidence-building program for girls in 3rd through 8th grade. The program has been adapted to ensure the health and safety of our volunteers and program participants. Activities have been modified to allow for social distancing and individual program materials, such as personal workbooks and markers, to ensure materials do not need to be shared. A virtual programming option has been added to allow girls to participate who prefer to not attend in-person programming. To learn more or volunteer your time, visit girlsontherun.org
    The Girls on the Run 5k will take place on May 14th in Akron. There still time to sign up, click here!
    Kidney Foundation of Ohio
    The Kidney Foundation of Ohio provides direct financial assistance to patients suffering from renal (kidney) disease that enables them to receive their lifesaving medications and treatments. In 2021, the Foundation served over 1,000 patients.
    The Foundation is experiencing an increase in requests for assistance for transportation, medication and emergency assistance. Patients suffering from kidney disease are particularly vulnerable to experiencing COVID-19. Dialysis patients who contract COVID-19 must go to an isolation unit, which can be a far distance from their regular dialysis unit. Patients can struggle to afford the extra expenses. For more information, visit the website.
    Student Run Free Clinic @ NEOMED
    The Student Run Free Clinic is expanding their hours to Thursday evenings beginning with the 3rd Thursday of the month during the May, June and July. Then adding more Thursdays starting in August of 2022.
    They provide Behavioral Health Services and Free laboratory testing. They are also starting a Health Coaching program for those with many social or medical needs. The Health Coaches are medical students who are paired with a patient to help them navigate the social services in the community.
    Volunteers Needed: Dietician for diet education for diabetes, high blood pressure, weight management and high cholesterol. Contact Janet Rabet at jraber@neomed.edu if you are interested.
    Big Brothers, Big Sisters
    Big Brothers, Big Sisters provides children facing adversity with strong and enduring, one-on-one mentoring relationships. The program is looking for volunteers to join the community-based mentoring program. Volunteers must be able to spend 12 hours per month, for at least one year, with their match. Volunteers spend quality one-on-one time with their match, participating in activities such as taking a walk in the park, listening to music, going to a football game, playing board games or going to a museum. If you're interested in becoming a Big Brother or Big Sister, visit their website.
    RSVP of Portage County
    RSVP is one of the largest volunteer networks in the nation for people 55 and over. You can use the skills and talents you’ve learned over the years, or develop new ones while serving in a variety of volunteer activities within your community.
    In 2021, 120 active RSVP volunteers gave back a total of 26,655 hours of service to 4,075 people in our community. Volunteer provided tutoring assistance to 40 students, helped feed 3,945 patrons through food pantry services and hot meals, delivered a daily hot meal to 15 seniors every week, drove 25 seniors on a regular basis to medical appointments and needed errands, assisted 20 patrons by finding them discounted medications, and visited with 30 homebound seniors to increase social connections. All this service saved our county $678,517 in community resources!
    Opportunities for volunteering include: food pantry support, hot meal distribution, summer youth programs, friendly visitor with a homebound senior, transportation assistance to local medical appointments and needed errands to maintain independence and supporting our area senior centers.
    RSVP Community Give Back Days in partnership with The Wilds in Ravenna - RSVP of Portage County will visit their site quarterly to offer on-site volunteer opportunities for the many senior residents. To include: May 25th - card making for local veterans, July 27th - school supply drive to benefit Skeels-Mathews Community Center; September 28th - non perishable food drive to benefit Center of Hope; and finally November 16th - holiday card making to benefit the Haven of Portage.
    United Way of Portage County | 999 E. Main Street, P.O. Box 845, Ravenna, OH 44266
    juliac@uwportage.org, (330) 297-1424
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